Puakea Golf Course is a championship test, but it's less expensive than Kauai's top resort courses. (Brandon Tucker/GolfAdvisor) It's easy to walk the nine-hole Kukuiolono Golf Course, which is Kauai's best-kept secret. (Brandon Tucker/GolfAdvisor) The Mini Prince Par 3 Course at Princeville features holes between 48-91 yards and large holes. (Courtesy of Princeville)

Relaxing golf in Hawaii: Kauai has plenty of options for a casual round

Golf on Kauai embodies world-class resort courses set among some of the most spectacular mountain and ocean backdrops the game offers.

Kauai Lagoons Golf Club, Poipu Bay Golf Course, Makai Golf Club at St. Regis Princeville and the Prince Golf Course at Princeville are all golf experiences that are top-100 worthy. All of these courses are exceptional -- and the green fees reflect that.

But one of the more unique things about golf on Kauai is that there are many more casual and affordable options for golf. Even if you're not much of a golfer or want to take the kids or novice spouse out for a quick and easy round, Kauai has you covered.

Puakea Golf Course

Located right next to the airport in the town of Lihue, Puakea Golf Course sits in a kind of no man's land. It's not quite a resort course and not quite a muni, although the nearly 7,000-yard Robin Nelson design (with four sets of tees total, playing as short as 5,200 yards) is as good as any in Hawaii. While the opening holes play near the town of Lihue, the routing gets good really fast at the par-3 sixth hole, which plays from an elevated tee. The back nine is something special, particularly holes 11-17, which feel entirely isolated from the nearby city and have uninterrupted views of the nearby mountainsides and ocean views to boot. This facility is also a popular place for locals and kids to practice, thanks to a huge range and practice green.

Wailua Golf Course

Hawaii is arguably the finest state for golf in the U.S., not only because of its top-100 resort courses but also for its accessibility and affordability for locals. That is reflected at Wailua Golf Course, which is located on the coast between Lihue and Kapaa. This municipal facility overachieves with an oceanfront stretch of holes and history as three-time host of the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. This course can get crowded and tourists pay a different rate here, but it's still a steal at $48-$60.

Kukuiolono Golf Course

Wonderfully unique, Kukuiolono Golf Course is the island's best-kept secret. It's a little, historic nine-hole course located minutes from the south shore that dates to 1927. Before you think it's a pitch and putt, there are some tough holes like the 595-yard second. (The total length for the nine-hole loop is just less than 3,000 yards). Green fees are a mere $8 for locals and tourists, so even vacationers can feel like they are getting the kama'aina treatment. The views and pleasant vibe are worth the drive up to Kalaheo from Lihue or Poipu alone, and the greens are in surprisingly good shape.

Woods Nine at St. Regis Princeville

The Makai Golf Club at St. Regis Princeville used to be a 27-hole course prior to the extensive renovation and redesign in 2008. The Woods Nine, with no ocean holes of its own, was dropped out of the rotation and is now its own separate entity aimed at locals, walking and family golf.

Waikahe Nine at Kauai Lagoons Golf Club

Formerly the 18-hole Mokihana Course, the Kauai Lagoons Golf Club has since closed nine holes and transformed the course into a more casual Waikahe Nine. Designed for walking and families, kids ages 6-17 play free with a paying adult.

Practice and play at Poipu Bay

In the afternoons between 3-4 p.m., Poipu Bay offers a "practice and play" program that offers a bucket of balls followed by playing the first three holes of the golf course. The cost is $25 and includes a golf cart.

Mini Prince Par 3 Course at Princeville

Besides renovations on the course and in the clubhouse, part of the Prince Golf Course at Princeville overhaul was the addition of a six-hole par-3 course, the Mini Prince Par 3 Course at Princeville. This family-oriented course has holes ranging from 48-91 yards and features 8-inch holes and free golf for juniors with a paid adult ($15).

Feb 18, 2014

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Brandon Tucker

Managing Editor

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGC.